The Open Gaming Network’s newsletter had an offer to write for them. That’s how I met Kim Frandsen, my editor at the Open Gaming Network. As with every editor I’ve had, he helped me to hone my craft, introduced me to a number of people in the industry, and is someone I count as a friend. So, when Kim shared one of his projects with me, I knew I wanted to repay his kindness and talk to him about The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy.
[UPDATE: The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is live. Find it here.]
EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for talking with me. Currently, you’re finishing up a project (really several). Can you share some The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy details?
KIM FRANDSEN (KF): Sure thing, Egg. So, this is basically an experiment, and something that was born out of my own annoyance. I have a liking, as a player, for having multiple options in a single book. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it just seems right to me. But a lot of the time, when I see a new subclass or something of that sort revealed, it seems to be just that single subclass included in the book. And to me, that seems wrong, as I like choice – I like a LOT of choice. So, I set about the book as an experiment of trying out the DMsGuild for the first time and providing the kind of book I like. I took a good look at all the tropes, stereotypes and references to the barbarian that I could think of, and then I tried to turn them into something that players can use in their games.
That originally started as just an idea of 10 new paths for the Barbarian, but by the end of it, there was 14 of paths, a new race, 5 backgrounds and a bunch of equipment. It got a bit bigger than I’d originally intended, but that’s how many of these projects run. 😊
EGG: This project is all you, correct? Every word from your keyboard?
KF: Everything in the book is mine. EXCEPT the path called Path of the Slayer. That came from the mind of a good friend of mine called Rodney Sloan, who does 5e and Pathfinder as well, and who worked as my copy editor on the OGN. We saw an opportunity as one of his paths fit perfectly into my book, and one of my paths (the Path of the Northman) has made an appearance in his book as well, and was released just a few days ago in the Undersea Sourcebook: Race and Class Guide.
EGG: Who’s providing the art?
KF: The cover and some of the larger pieces of internal art is Dean Spencer. I have a real love for his work, so I wanted to showcase some of it. Incidentally, he came out with a piece of art, just as I was writing the new race for the book (redscale lizardfolk), and I just HAD to include that one in the book. The other pieces of internal art are all in the public domain, and was sorted by Bob Greyvenstein, who also did the general layout (and who did a fantastic job, I think).
EGG: Where will it be available? When (roughly) will The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy drop?
KF: It’s only going to be available on the DMsGuild. I’m hoping this weekend. But it might be delayed (on purpose) till next Thursday/Friday. It really depends on when the layout is finished.
[UPDATE: The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is live. Find it here.]
EGG: Why the DMsGuild as opposed to a “standard” release?
KF: Well, that’s part of the experiment that I mentioned earlier. I’ve had a number of books released on DriveThruRPG, and there are certain advantages to releasing there, such as easier access to putting your book out as Print-on-Demand. However, I think the 5e audience mainly uses the DMsGuild, at least for their D&D purchases, and I want the book to be available to as many people as possible. And it’ll be interesting to see if I’m right. 😉
EGG: Can you share the details of a few classes from the book?
KF: Certainly. I already mentioned the redscale lizardfolk earlier, so I’ll start with them. They’re a new player character race, created from normal lizardfolk stock, by a red dragon looking to make slave creatures. They’re strong and wise, good swimmers and have a bite attack and the ability to deal fire damage with their weapons by coating them in blood.
I’ll cover just 2 of the paths as well. First is the “Path of the Immortal” – which is inspired by the stories of Achilles. This gives you a bit of the legendary abilities of his, like an improved armor class, extra damage against creatures that wound you, and decreased damage from non-magical weapons, beyond the normal resistance.
The other one is the Path of the Skinchanger, and it’s inspired by He-Man. I wanted a Barbarian that transformed when he raged, so I have a class that’s thematically tied to his gear, transforming and gaining abilities as long as you have your weapon/armor/shield (your choice) on you, gaining superhuman strength eventually. After writing it, I realized that a quick re-skin would allow you to do Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde and the Hulk as well, which is an added bonus. 😊
EGG: You’ve done a small meme campaign to get the word out about this. How has the reaction been?
KF: A lot of laughs. Hopefully not just mine. 😊 – No, the reception has been good from what I can see, but it’s definitely an acquired taste, and not for everyone. I just wanted something a little different to posting my stuff in every single group imaginable. I know that’s probably imposter syndrome talking, since we all see it, but I really dislike doing it. So, I’d rather have something fun. And yes, I do have one more planned for when the book releases. – One that I think incapsulates every author ever when a new book comes out. 😛
EGG: The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is not your only project. What else can you share?
KF: I always have multiple projects on the go (at any given time, there’s at least 5 on the backburner with a few more active), but the 3 that are currently going on are 2 Starfinder ones (That I cannot talk about due to NDAs), and another 5e one that I CAN talk about. 😊 We’re doing a follow-up to two books that I did together with Ishmael Alvarez called Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue and Aurora’s Whole Realms Autumn Catalogue. Spiritual successors to the old Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalogue, based in the Forgotten Realms, and full of new equipment. 😊
EGG: For those not familiar with you, what other projects have you participated in?
KF: That is WAY too long a list to put it all in here. But my work has probably been seen by most people in Paizo’s Pathfinder Player Companion: Wilderness Origins – But I have more than 40 books behind me as an author or co-author and another 20 as editor, plus some 100+ blog posts. Anyone interested can find the full list here: https://paizo.com/people/Curtisin
EGG: On to some sadder news (for me), you’re no longer my editor at the Open Gaming Network as you’re moving on to greener pastures. Can you share a few highlights from your years there?
KF: Well obviously working with a bunch of talented authors has been interesting to say the least. I’ve learned a lot, hopefully taught even more and often thought to myself “herding cats is easier”. 😊 – In all seriousness though, I’m grateful to have worked with so many talented people, and singling anyone out would do them a disservice. I will say though, that the most INTERESTING thing we did was to host the DesignFinder Contest. While I wasn’t among the judges, I was the person that the winner had to work with afterwards, and I was the only one, apart from the judges, who saw all the entries. And there are some talented people out there, who simply need to polish their skills, and they could REALLY make an impact.
EGG: For fans interested in learning more about your and The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy, where can they find out more?
KF: I’m relatively active on social media – though I’m new to Twitter. People can follow me here:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kim.frandsen.12
Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/TGbloke
Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/frandsen3442/